This condition is seen primarily in small breed dogs nursing large litters during the first 2 - 4 weeks of lactation (feeding milk). It also may be seen at or near parturition, or whelping. It is caused by a low concentration of calcium in the blood.
- Muscle tremors
- Lack of co-ordination
- Decreased appetite
These signs are caused by hypocalcaemia (low blood calcium) secondary to:
A diet that is not nutritionally complete and balanced (e.g. some home cooked diets)
Excessive milk production – when puppies require large amounts of milk, the mother may not be able to maintain adequate amounts of calcium in her blood stream
Hypocalcaemia is a life threatening condition that can result in death without appropriate emergency treatment. You must seek veterinary attention immediately if you are concerned.
What to Expect at the Vet
Intravenous injection of a calcium solution under the close supervision of the veterinarian. If not monitored carefully, severe heart rhythm disturbances (cardiac arrhythmias) can occur.
Intravenous glucose if needed.
Intravenous fluids if dehydrated or in shock.
Active cooling using intravenous fluids, fans, or other methods as required.
Advice on how to prevent the mother from relapsing. In some cases, the pups need to be removed from the mother and need to be hand reared.
Feed the mother a high quality puppy food during pregnancy and breast feeding – these are nutritionally complete and balanced, and provide the correct nutrients in the correct proportions.
Avoid feeding calcium supplements during pregnancy as these can reduce your pet’s body’s ability to respond to large demands for calcium. Only give medications that are recommended by your veterinarian.
Sometimes your veterinarian may advise that you supplement large litter’s diets with a milk replacer to reduce the demand on the mother to supply milk.
Birthing Difficulties | Seizuring Pets | Vomiting | Eye Injuries